How long do babies carry their mother’s immunity?

Immunity can be defined as the ability of the body to fight against infectious diseases. When you are immune to certain diseases, it means your immune system can defend your body against pathogens. Immunity can be classified as innate and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is known as natural immunity which has been genetically installed inside the body while adaptive immunity is a third line defense also known as acquired immunity can be divided into two subcategories which are active immunity and passive immunity. Maternal passive immunity is the antibody passed along from mother to baby during pregnancy. After delivery, the newborns continue to receive passive immunity via breast milk. The amount of protection a baby receives from his mother depends on the antibodies level of the mother herself. Research has shown the baby’s passive immunity lasts for around six months but there is no specific evidence to support the data. If the mother is immunocompromised, the antibodies protection transferred to the infant is not sufficient to prevent diseases. Moreover, newborns are easily susceptible to infections so it is important to handle the babies with extra caution after labour. Find doctor specialized in Obstetrics and Gynecology readily available to help you if you have any inquiries regarding maternity such as breastfeeding.

The baby’s immune system is not mature until they reach three months old hence it is very crucial to help the child to fight against pathogens in their first few months because the immune system is not fully developed yet. On the bright side, the mother’s immune system continues to protect the baby with the antibodies shared through the placenta immediately after birth. Those antibodies stay active only for the first few weeks of the baby’s life and will decline after two weeks of birth. The mother should not worry because every time your baby gets sick, they will develop new antibodies to protect them in the future.

Premature babies differ from normal babies because they didn’t receive much antibodies from the mother thus they have a greater risk of getting infections because their immune systems are even more immature. It takes more time for premature babies to produce their own antibodies. A child starts to develop a strong immune system at the age of two years old after weaning off from the mother’s milk. As the children grow, they produce their own antibodies every time they are exposed to a new bacteria or virus while adapting to the environment but it takes time for the immunity to develop. The best way for a child to retain the antibodies is through breastfeeding which has been scientifically proven.

Breastfeeding protects against infection

Breastfeeding contains all the necessary nutrients and provides sufficient antibodies for the child’s development. In the first year of infancy, the baby’s immune system is not strong enough to fight against diseases. Therefore, it is important for the baby to be protected by his mother through breastfeeding. Breast-milk contains white blood cells and the main immunoglobulin in breast milk is IgA often called secretory immunoglobulin located inside the blood. IgA provides protection against all the microbes, bacteria, viruses and toxic exposure to the baby that the mother had in her gut from her past infections as well as those she makes in response to illnesses while breastfeeding. One of the components in breast milk is an anti-inflammatory agent which is important to fight against germs such as shigella, vibrio cholerae, campylobacter, giardia lamblia and to protect the baby from autoimmune conditions such as celiac disease. Besides that, studies have shown babies who are breastfed for a year experience fewer infections than babies who drink formula milk.
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